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THE KEY THAT SWALLOWED JOEY PIGZA by Jack Gantos
The fifth and final book in the groundbreaking Joey Pigza series brings the beloved chronicle of this wired, wacky, and wonderful boy to a crescendo of chaos and craziness, as everything goes topsy-turvy for Joey just as he starts to get his feet on the ground. With his dad MIA in the wake of appearance-altering plastic surgery, Joey must give up school to look after his new baby brother and fill in for his mom, who hospitalizes herself to deal with a bad case of postpartum blues. As his challenges mount, Joey discovers a key that could unlock the secrets to his father’s whereabouts, a mystery that must be solved before Joey can even hope that his broken family might somehow come back together—if only it doesn’t pull him apart first. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
HANUKKAH! By Roni Schotter
Winner of the National Jewish Book Award, Hanukkah! follows one family’s celebration of the holiday, from eating latkes and spinning the dreidel, to singing prayers and lighting the menorah. With sweet rhyming text and warm illustrations, this is the perfect way to celebrate the festival of lights. (Little, brown Books For Young Readers)
You wake up feeling refreshed, a new day a new— wait your favorite pair of pants is missing. Darting up from bed you hear a noise outside. A woman is wearing them and looking straight at you. What do you do?
Want more creative writing prompts?
Pick up a copy of A Year of Writing Prompts: 365 Story Ideas for Honing Your Craft and Eliminating Writer’s Block. There’s a prompt for every day of the year and you can start on any day.
Order now from our shop.
By Greg Leitich Smith
for Cynthia Leitich Smith
's CynsationsT.A. Barron
grew up in Colorado ranch country and traveled widely as a Rhodes Scholar. He is the winner of the 2011 de Grummond Medallion for “lifetime contribution to the field of children’s and young adult literature” and many other awards.
T. A. Barron is the author of more than 25 highly acclaimed books, many of which are international bestsellers.
They include The Lost Years of Merlin
(now being developed into a feature film
), The Great Tree of Avalon
(a New York Times bestselling series), The Ancient One
(the tale of a brave girl and a magical tree), and The Hero’s Trail
(nonfiction stories of courageous kids).
Though he’d dreamed as a young man of becoming a writer, he couldn’t find anyone to publish his first novel. He joined a business, eventually became president, then decided to try again.
So in 1990, he surprised his business partners by moving back to Colorado to become a writer and conservationist.
His novel Atlantis Rising
(Philomel, 2014) was released in paperback last week. What is your writing process like? Do you outline or just dive in?
Essentially, I write all the time, even when I’m traveling, going for a hike with my kids, baking, etc.
The creative process isn’t limited to the hours I spend in my writing chair in the attic of our house in Colorado. It happens on many levels when I’m immersed in a project.
I always write the first draft with a blue felt pen and a pad of paper, because that is a good creative chemistry for me. And I do lots of rewrites - as many as it takes to get it right!
Like a good stew, novels get better when you boil them down and integrate all the ingredients. Most of my novels take six or seven full rewrites and two years to finish.What inspired the Atlantis series?
The legend of Atlantis has always intrigued me. No word evokes more of a feeling of tragedy than the word "Atlantis."
The tale of Atlantis is such a beautiful story, and for the 2000 years since Plato first wrote about it, people have wondered and dreamed about it.
But one thing that has never changed is that the island of Atlantis was utterly destroyed.
I started to wonder, though, about something else—how Atlantis began.
How did a place that rose to such a level of near perfection get destroyed by the flaws and weaknesses of its people?
Ultimately, how did that happen?
This big unknown question is what got me to write Atlantis Rising. I wanted to add a new thread to the tapestry of myth about Atlantis—how it all began, the secrets of its origins.How did research for Atlantis compare with research for Merlin?
Good fantasy must be true.
I know that sounds contradictory, but I’m talking about truth on the deeper emotional and spiritual levels, not just on the factual level. Part of that authenticity is doing research.
For my Merlin Saga
, I spent a whole year reading everything I could possibly find about the wizard Merlin – just to get a hint of his true character and voice.
Then came the fun of imagining that character as a young man – and even more basic, as a half-drowned boy who washed ashore with no memory at all.
For Atlantis, I did the same thing to understand the various interpretations of the Atlantean myth (and there are lots of them).
Then I began to re-imagine that myth, especially how it all began – what was at stake, who were the heroes and sources of evil, and what sacrifices and struggles happened to give birth to Atlantis.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Here are the essentials: Notice the world around you. Live your life and follow your dreams. Practice writing as often as you can. And importantly, don’t take rejection letters to heart!
Everyone gets them, even established writers. (My first novel got a great reception – 32 rejection letters and no interest whatsoever from any publishers.)
Rejections hurt, but they are just part of life.
The most important thing to remember is this: If you have something to say, and refuse to give up, you absolutely will
find a way to say it and share it with others.T.A. Barron's Writing Room -- Inside & Outside Cynsational Notes & Screening Room
In 2000, T.A. Barron founded a national award to honor outstanding young people who help their communities or the environment: the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes
, which honors 25 highly diverse, public-spirited kids each year. He recently produced a documentary film, "Dream Big,"
profiling seven winners of the Barron Prize.
When not writing or speaking, T. A. Barron serves on many boards including Princeton University
, where he helped to create the Princeton Environmental Institute
, and The Wilderness Society
, which recently honored him with its highest award for conservation work. His favorite pastime is hiking, camping, or skiing in Colorado with his family.
A native of Chicago, interviewer Greg Leitich Smith
now lives in Austin, Texas. His middle grade/tween novels include: the Parents’ Choice Gold Award-winning and Junior Library Guild Selection, Ninjas, Piranhas and Galileo
(Little Brown/IntoPrint); its companion Tofu and T.rex
(Little Brown/IntoPrint); the Junior Library Guild Selection Chronal Engine
(Clarion); and Little Green Men at the Mercury Inn
(Roaring Brook). He holds degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois
and the University of Texas
, and a degree in law from the University of Michigan
. Find him @GLeitichSmith
Cynsational Giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway
BY OWEN BONDONO In nature, all living things fill a specific role in their ecosystems. This is called their ecological niche, and organisms need this specific combination of factors to survive.
Similarly, every writer needs their own specific combination of factors to thrive creatively. Some people like quiet, while others like noise. Some write first thing in the morning, others write after everyone else has gone to bed. Finding your writing niche is key to upping your productivity.
Lists and charts have always made me happy. Even if you hate charts, taking notes on your writing habits can help clarify what factors work for you and which factors don’t.
Spend a few weeks setting aside writing time as often as you can. Record all the details of your writing session, including:
- the day and time,
- how much time spent writing,
- background noise,
- what else you’re doing (eating, drinking, texting, etc),
- words written, and
- anything else you think may impact your writing productivity.
Make sure you switch up these factors during the few weeks you’re recording, so you get as much data as possible.
Sitting back to look at this information will show you trends that are hard to spot on their own, especially when you do the math to figure out how many words you wrote per hour. As the factors change, productivity can vary widely.
Study these numbers for patterns. These patterns of productivity are the factors that will describe your niche. For instance, my niche is in the evening, out of the house, somewhere with some background noise but with my music playing. That’s why you’ll find me in libraries and cafes with too much coffee and headphones that look too big for my head. Everyone has their own niche, and keeping track of your productivity can help you find yours.
Get prepared to write an entire novel in November with
a little help for our October 9 webinar: How to Pre-Plot & Complete
a Novel or Memoir in a Month (comes with a bonus ebook).
Make Your Niche Into A Habitat
Once you’ve found your niche, it’s time to burrow in and make it your home. Habitats provide animals with everything important in their lives. They dictate the habits and routines of nature. As humans, we get to decide what is in our habitat.
Routine helps prevent writer’s block and gives you focus. If you always write after supper, then your brain will start shifting automatically into writing gear as you’re stacking your dishes in the sink.
Don’t think of writing time as stolen moments, but as planned time to give your creativity the room to stretch and play. Putting your writing time on your schedule – and sticking to it – helps you and those around you take it seriously. That’s when your niche becomes a habitat, when you settle down to live in the efficiency of routine.
To do this, lay out your schedule for a typical week. Index cards or sticky notes are great for this because you can move them around easily. On each card or note, write out one thing you must do in your day. Include everything: your job, your commute, your mealtimes, your sleep.
Figure out what you can rearrange. Some things you can’t move, like your commute. But with a little flexibility, many things can be moved. Showers can be taken in the morning or at night; the dishes can be washed any time. Rearrange your tasks so your butt is in your preferred writing chair during your writing niche as often as possible.
Most of us can’t afford to spend hours every day writing. There are just too many other things that need our attention. By making writing in your niche a routine, we can be more productive in less time. We may not be professional writers who can dedicate hours of the day to writing, but 20 minutes of high efficiency writing is better than spending two hours unfocused.
Owen Bondono is a border-crossing educator who teaches in Detroit and lives in Canada. He has served as National Novel Writing Month’s Detroit Municipal Liaison for six years and is currently revising his first novel. To write with him this November, visit his NaNoWriMo author profile.
By: Stephanie Kuehnert
Blog: Life, Words, & Rock 'n' Roll
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, Hugo House
, non fiction
, Writing Process
, zine-style memoir
, Add a tag
So, I’ve been working on my YA memoir for a little over a month now. It will be coming out from Dutton, though I don’t know when yet (hopefully 2016) and it still doesn’t have a title, so I’m just calling it “The Zine-Style Memoir” or “The Memoir.” It’s a VERY different experience than writing a novel, which doesn’t surprise me, but um, I must confess… I thought it was going to be easier than writing a novel! Why not? I don’t have to come up with a plot or characters, it’s just MY LIFE and I know what happens. But as it turns out it, The Memoir has its own set of challenges. Here’s what I’ve been grappling with so far:
- It’s just as emotional, if not more emotional to write. I write intense books. If you’ve read them, you know that. I deal with heavy shit like addiction, abuse, sexual assault, depression, self-injury and I don’t pull any punches. The reason I write so honestly about these things in my fiction is because these are the stories I needed to read as a teenager. And why did I need to read them? Because I was going through all of that shit. And now my job—the one I signed up for in some moment of total insanity (kidding… sort of)—is to rehash all of that very real shit that I went through. Now I’ve been doing this for a while in my essays for Rookie, but now I’m spending all of my writing time doing that, which is not exactly fun. I mean, I knew what I was getting into, and for the most part, I’ve processed all of this stuff in therapy (and through writing fictional versions), so it hasn’t been too detrimental to my emotional well-being—my revisions on BALLADS were actually much worse… at least, so far. BUT when you get up at 5:30 am to write and/or you spend most of your Saturdays writing like I do, it can be… unsettling. I went to a party on Saturday night after writing all day and it took me a couple hours to pull myself out of my own head. And some days I get to work and just feel anxious and tightly wound all day for no reason—except I spent the first hour of my day recounting a horrible fight with my childhood best friend. So yeah, it’s emotional work and I expect that it will get harder.
- This is what research looks like:
Yeah, those are my diaries. Clockwise from the top, they are from grade school (as you may have guessed from the pink kitty), 8th grade, summer before and all of junior year of high school, the two composition books are from my senior semester of high school (I took a journal writing class and I had A LOT to say, so much that when I filled them, I went back to black-and-white cat journal and finished filling it during the rest of what would have been my senior year when I was living on my own in Madison, Wisconsin), and the last journal is from my year at Antioch College and the two years I lived in Madison after dropping out (I was the opposite of productive then). Conspicuously missing are 7th grade (that was a very bad year and I tore my journal—also a Star Trek log book—to pieces, and I think, flushed them down the toilet) and freshman and sophomore year. That was a green spiral bound notebook. My abusive boyfriend demanded to read it in my sophomore year, so I ripped out a bunch of pages and REWROTE THEM. I’d saved the ripped pages and tried to reassemble/rewrite the whole thing on a couple of occasions, but since I never did it all, this led to confusion later about what was real and what wasn’t and eventually I threw the whole thing away. It kind of sucks because my memory is imperfect and these diaries (along with calls to my mom, who usually is my medical resource for my novels) are the easiest way to jog it. Well, easiest in terms of remember what happened when. Re-reading them is actually horrible. Like when this book is done, they might all go in the trash. And no, this isn’t me being critical of my writing skills (those aren’t actually that bad), this is because of my worst discovery about memoir-writing so far, which is…
- Writing about yourself sorta makes you hate yourself. I cringe every time I flip through any of those old diaries (aside from maybe the grade school one—not that I can flip through it because I thought what I’d written was so damning, I tore the pages out and stuffed them in an envelope addressed to my cousin presumably because I trusted her to dispose of them in the unlikely event of my tragic demise). The 8th grade one is pure obsessive love. Yeah, it was my first crush. That’s probably normal to a degree, but holy shit is it embarrassing. I thought I was going to marry this guy and have three babies (the Ouija board told me so). I thought I was gonna die when he asked another girl to the graduation dance. It includes other things I’d rather not recall either like when I got into Pearl Jam just to impress my best friend’s new friend. I hate Pearl Jam, but boy did I convince myself that I loved them, just to fit in… at a time that I swore I was done trying to fit in.
The obsessions and the hypocrisies are the worst and they continue through all the journals. I’ll blast girl for spreading rumors and “girl hate” while saying the most awful, hateful things about her. And during the fucked-up relationship from my late teens there are actual entries written in my own blood. The worst of the worst though is from the summer between sophomore and junior year right after my abuser and I broke up when I was still in love with him and that period after I realized what he’d done to me, but I still loved him. Of course the anger that followed was not any easier to stomach.
Basically reading these diaries forces me to revisit the weaknesses that I hated most about myself and also forces me to look at how self-centered and cruel and angry and awful I was at times. I have to recognize that I was not always a good person and I made A LOT of mistakes. Of course this book is about identity and how the many pieces of us come together to form something whole (or mostly whole). I thought I was writing about that in a retrospective way, but I’m realizing now that there is still going to be some self-understanding and self-forgiveness that is going to have to come from the writing process. And while I’m in the thick of it, I’m going to have to remind myself that I’m not that person anymore and I learned from both her good and bad decisions and traits.
- Just because my life has an arc or a “plot” doesn’t mean I’m not going to have to make major structural decisions within each essay/chapter and for the book as a whole just like I would for a novel. This has been my biggest writerly problem so far. I sold the book on proposal and I thought I had a solid idea of what it would be—more like a collection of essays than a memoir. But as soon as I started writing in earnest, I realized it wasn’t really working. I can’t just plug this essay fromRookie about my struggle with self-injury in to the place where it seems to fit best chronologically—junior high because that’s when the cutting started—because the essay covers my whole journey, from twelve to twenty-two or twenty-three. Reading that and then reading the next thing about me being fourteen and struggling with self-esteem or something, it’s jarring. It doesn’t flow as a narrative. It makes you feel like fourteen-year-old me should be better off because she was at the end of that last piece (even though she was also in her twenties). My editor noticed this, too, of course, and we talked about it for an hour. I have ideas about how to fix it, but the structure still feels very murky right now. That seems to be happening within each essay/chapter I write too. I start off one way, then change my mind, then end up with alternate versions of each piece. It’s frustrating and I don’t want it to be. I know that if I agonize over structure now, it’s going to really slow me down and it’s all going to change later. So this has led to…
I need to create the puzzle pieces. Only then can I dump them out on the table and figure out how they fit (and probably reshape a bunch of them, but that doesn’t go well with my puzzle metaphor). So I want to write really rough versions of the essays/chapters/parts of the story I know I need to tell. I’m doing it linearly right now, but this might be the time to jump around (in a way I haven’t done since I wrote my first novel!) and write in chunks, some of which will probably feel really unpolished and incomplete. The problem is I HATE unpolished and incomplete. I hate rough drafts and it is hell for me to get through them. Speeding through did help me with my last novel, though, and in this case, so I don’t waste a lot of time figuring out a structure that will change once I have all the pieces, I think it’s going to be essential. To make it work, I’ve set up…
I decided pretty much arbitrarily that I would like to write all of the rough pieces by November 1st
. This is going to be a pretty enormous challenge because I work full-time, I teach a class once a week, and… I’m going on vacation from October 2-8. So yeah. This might be totally unrealistic. But what the hell. Setting intense deadlines works for me (as long as I don’t get too angry at myself if I can’t make them, which I am promising here, publicly, that I won’t. Hold me to it, please!). Conveniently, the place where I teach, the Hugo House
, is running a 30/30 fundraising challenge this month! Basically if you sign up, you commit to writing 30 minutes every day for the first 30 days of October. So I’m doing it. 30 minutes a day. Even on my anniversary trip to Hawaii. (Writing on the beach is great, right?) I am trying to raise some funds for Hugo House, which is an incredible organization for writers, so if you want to cheer me on and donate a few buck to a good cause, I’d love it. Here’s my fundraising page
. You can also join the challenge
if you are so inclined and I hope you will! In fact, if you are a YA writer (or a friend of mine!) you are welcome to join the team
, my I've formed with my YA class (and my friends!)
So, if you don’t hear from me much next month (aside from vacation pics on my instagram
about my writing progress), you’ll know it’s because of my lofty goal. What are your big goals for October?
It’s true—you CAN make a living as a writer! AWAI has been teaching people how to do it since 1997.
And I’m happy to announce we’re now able to share our tips, techniques and strategies directly with Writer’s Digest readers through our new blog – How to Make a Living as a Writer.
My name is Rebecca Matter. I’m the President of AWAI, and have personally worked with and trained hundreds of writers over the last 15 years. I have a lot of experience helping writers cross over from dreaming about the writer’s life—to actually living it. And I’m going to share what I know works with you each week, so that you too can start living the life of your dreams.
I won’t be alone …
Along the way I’m going to invite many of the AWAI-trained writers I know who have successfully made the leap and are living the writer’s life too. People like:
- Pat McCord, a once struggling novelist who learned to support herself and her creative passion doing what she loves …
- Starr Daubenmire, who fulfilled a life-long dream by moving to Lucca, Italy for 3 months, and spent her mornings writing and her afternoons painting …
- Joshua Boswell, a father of 11, who put his nose to the grindstone and earned a six-figure income 11 months after he started out …
- Mindy McHorse, a young stay-at-home mom who spends her days with her kids in the Albuquerque sunshine while writing on the side …
- Henry Bingaman, an ex-flight attendant who ditched his crazy work hours to write — and like Joshua, quickly set up shop and skyrocketed his income to six figures …
- And Rae Robinson – a writer who found us through Writer’s Digest when she was in college and has doubled her income every year since she graduated just 3 years ago.
They’ll participate in this blog to bring you different perspectives, and share their “life in the trenches” as successful working writers.
We’ll talk about the best paying opportunities for writers, skills and techniques for writing winning copy and online content, best practices for landing clients who value writers and are willing to pay them well, and how to successfully work with clients to ensure long-term relationships with more and more opportunities.
So check in weekly, and let my team of experts and me help you live the writer’s life of your dreams.
In the meantime, I encourage you to spend some time today thinking about what your version of the writer’s life looks like. What would it mean to make a very good living as a writer? How would your life be different? How would you spend your free time and extra money?
Give it some thought and write it down. It will become your goal as you participate in this weekly blog.
And if you have any questions for me in the meantime, I invite you to post comments or connect with me on Facebook.
Talk to you next week!
Once while staying as a guest at the estate of Walter Fawkes, J.M.W. Turner was asked to paint a watercolor of a British man-of-war.
His process of painting was extraordinary. According to an eyewitness, "He began by pouring wet paint onto the paper till it was saturated. He tore, he scratched, he scrubbed at it in a kind of frenzy and the whole thing was chaos -- but gradually, and as if by magic the lovely ship, with all its exquisite minutia, came into being, and by luncheon time the drawing was taken down in triumph."
Tomorrow —a new episode of Clementoons.
The Book With No Pictures
by BJ Novak
Put on your silly hats, all you adults reading picture books to young ones. Start reconnecting with your inner child and get your best imitative voices ready for a VERY SPECIAL picture book read!
B.J. Novak, known for his work on NBC’s Emmy Award winning series, The Office, in which he wrote, acted, directed and was executive producer, has come up with a very imaginative “NO PICTURE” picture book. HUH??
Now wait, before you rush to judgment and say, “Now how will THAT hold the interest of my wiggly squiggly tot, I say trust me. IT WILL. But a lot depends on YOU! Feeling the pressure yet? Wait!
Mr. Novak’s premise, and it’s a good one, is that it explains to kids how picture reads work. Namely, it states that the picture book reading adult MUST SAY EVERYTHING THAT IS ON THE PAGE! NO MATTER WHAT!
Intriguing, no? YES!!!
It Is If the plain black words on a pure white page are filled with nonsensical phrases and words the adult reader is COMPELLED to voice and the pressure is on YOU to make it, well, WORK!
You, the reader will find yourself voicing phrases in a sing song fashion like:
“GLUG GLUG GLUG
MY FACE IS A BUG
I EAT ANTS
Mr. Novak cleverly has arranged an alternately outraged and aghast running dialogue that the reader voices to himself “sotto voce”, as he is forced to say the silly and the sensational stream of consciousness mouthings of the author.
A song? I thought this was
going to be a serious book!
Do I really have to sing a —
Whereby the reader immediately launches into the aforementioned ditsy ditty! Actually, it’s very FREEING, moms and dads and grandparents, too.
Mr. Novak has gotten the creative power of a child’s imagination to work overtime here, in that with NO pictures to form the images, children are free to come up with their OWN.
And let’s face it, as we older, more ahem, “sophisticated readers” pick up a tome, isn’t THAT what WE DO! WE imagined what Scarlett and Rhett looked like, we pictured the pinched persona of Scrooge as he stalked about his money changing hole, and what the RING actually looked like as we read “The Lord of the Rings”. I pictured Gandalf EXACTLY like Sir Ian McKellen!
B. J. Novak has given our children a head start in imagining WHAT is on the written page AND WE ADULT READERS are allowed in on the journey with our best Robin Williams voices. Not to put too sentimental a point on it, but Robin would have done a heck of a job reading this book to kids on audio. I can just hear the laughter as he launched into, “I am a ROBOT MONKEY.” The possibilities for mimicry are endless, parents.
Thankfully, I know I can say BONK with conviction to my 3, 4 and 5 year olds at Story time. My GA-WOCKO needs WORK! Can’t wait to give it a GO!!! Please do the same with your young ones!!
By: Roger Sutton
Blog: Read Roger - The Horn Book editor's rants and raves
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, Lolly's Classroom
, Deaf culture
, elementary school
, grade 5
, graphic novels
, middle school
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This week, I was lucky enough to have a thirty-minute window when I could pop into my favorite independent bookstore in Los Angeles. They have a large children’s section on the second floor that I love perusing because they do an excellent job at getting new books.
On one of their displays sat El Deafo by Cece Bell. Intrigued first by the illustration of a superhero bunny and second by the title, my immediate thought was “What is this book about and who is this written for?” As if by fate, a children’s book worker looked up from her task of stocking new books and said “Oh that’s a really cute story. I highly recommend it.” I inquired about the reading level and she said it could be from fourth grade to middle school. Opening it, I was stoked to find out it was a graphic novel. Sold. It may be one of the best impulsive $20 I’ve spent of late.
I read this book in two days. It follows the author’s childhood experiences of being deaf, and specifically highlights her experiences in school. What captured me was the depiction of how people treated her and, since it’s from Cece’s point of view, how she felt. Her emotions come through strongly in the text and illustrations, and made me stop and think about how I treat people even if my intention is good. I connected with Cece’s superhero persona, “El Deafo.” Cece uses El Deafo to imagine the ideal way to handle tough situations, even if that doesn’t play out in real life (something I did as a kid too). What I really loved about this book was how the author depicted her friendships with the other kids (the good and the bad). It reminded me that children can sometimes do really mean things but that most of the time they mean well and can be really amazing friends to each other. It’s a lesson I need to carry for the school year.
Cece’s journey starts at the age of four and ends in fifth grade, so as a fifth grade teacher, I’m very excited to bring this graphic novel to my classroom. I think the students will enjoy this book and learn a lot from it. I believe that it will carry lessons of tolerance and respect for those who are hearing impaired, and prepare my students with tools (Don’t cover your mouth while someone is lip reading! Don’t assume all deaf people can sign!) to create meaningful and comfortable experiences with someone who can’t hear well.
The post El Deafo appeared first on The Horn Book.
Simon & Schuster has formed a partnership with a European eBook subscription service called Mofibo.
Mofibo users, who hail from Denmark and Sweden, now have access to Simon & Schuster’s backlist. This formidable collection contains more than 20,000 English and local language titles.
Simon & Schuster UK publisher Ian Chapman had this statement in the press release: “Scandinavia has long been an important international market for English language authors, and Mofibo’s early success makes evident the strong appetite for content in electronic form. A continental-based subscription service is a wonderful opportunity for reader, author, and publisher alike.”
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
Next week is the release of STAR WARS: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight. To celebrate, I’ll be doing events in my hometown, New York City, Boston, Austin and Miami.
Along with some familiar faces from “a galaxy far, far away”, I’ll be presenting and signing at my favorite hometown indie bookstore, The Odyssey Bookshop. Space is limited, so you’ll need to RSVP sooner than later. If you cannot make it the shop can take your order and ship a signed book to you.
From there, I’ll zoom down New York for NY Comic Con where the STAR WARS fun continues. As well, I am signing at the Dark Horse Comics booth and giving out a FREE promotional print for my upcoming book, REALMS: The Role Playing Game Art of Tony DiTerlizzi. Here’s the New York Comic Con schedule:
Autographing: Promotional Print for “REALMS: The RPG Art of Tony DiTerlizzi”
Saturday 12PM – 12:50 PM, Dark Horse Booth
This image of a classic Advanced Dungeons & Dragons kobold marks a return to my roots as an illustrator for the beloved roleplaying game. Along with collecting my artwork from Planescape, Changeling and Magic the Gathering, REALMS will also feature a series of new paintings of some of my favorite monsters and characters from the game that started it all. We’ll be giving out this 12×18″ print FREE at the Dark Horse Comics booth, so come on by!
Panel Name: STORMTROOPERS vs. RED SHIRTS
Sunday 11AM – 11:45 AM ET, Room 1A18
Conflicts in galaxies far far away have entertained us since the dawn of science fiction, but it we owe it to Star Trek and Star Wars helped to bring science fiction to the forefront of pop culture. Tony DiTerlizzi (The Adventure of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight), Jack Campbell (The Lost Stars: Imperfect Sword), Karen Bao (Dove Arising), Tony Abbott (Copernicus Legacy: The Serpent’s Curse), Emmy Laybourne (Monument 14), Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam (Etherworld) discuss skiffy upbringings and these two influential classics. A formal autographing will take place immediately after the panel at Table 19 in the autographing area.
While in New York City, I’ll be participating in “Star Wars Reads Day” at Books of Wonder along with some other notable Jedi, including Tom Angleberger.
STAR WARS Reads Day
Saturday, October 11th, 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Join us for this spectacular event in a galaxy far, far away…
TOM ANGLEBERGER Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus (Origami Yoda #6)
TONY DiTERLIZZI The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight
PABLO HIDALGO for Star Wars Rebels: A New Hero
MICHAEL KOGGE for Star Wars Rebels: Rise of the Rebels
MATTHEW REINHART for Star Wars: A Pop Up Guide to the Galaxy
Later in the month, I’ll be attending several book festivals, including:
Boston Book Festival
Saturday, October 25th, 12:30 – 1:00 PM ET
First Church of Boston Auditorium
66 Marlborough St.
Boston, MA 02116
* I will be pre-signing books at 11:30 AM prior to my presentation
Texas Book Festival
Sunday, October 26th, 2:45 – 3:30 PM CT
The Capitol, Extension Room E.2.028
1100 Congress Avenue, Between 11th and 12th Streets
Austin, TX 78701
*I shall be signing at the book signing tent immediately following my presentation.
Miami Book Fair
Angela and I will both be presenting and signing at this favorite Florida fair. Look for schedule and details soon.
My guest blogger today is Kai Strand and she is offering up a chance to win some cool prizes. Take it away Kai….
Hey everybody, my name is Kai Strand. I was unpacking books at a signing and came across a copy of King of Bad with a torn cover. Bummer. I can’t sell that! But my loss is your gain. Because I can hold a giveaway instead! Along with a slightly damaged copy of King of Bad, I’m also giving away several sets of character trading cards. These cards have been specially designed for book one in the series. There will be a separate set of cards designed for each book – so be among the first to own a set. Jeff Mean would rather set fires than follow rules or observe curfew. He wears his bad boy image like a favorite old hoodie; that is until he learns he has superpowers and is recruited by Super Villain Academy – where you learn to be good at being bad. In a school where one kid can evaporate all the water from your body and the girl you hang around with can perform psychic sex in your head, bad takes on a whole new meaning. Jeff wonders if he’s bad enough for SVA. He may never find out. Classmates vilify him when he develops good manners. Then he’s kidnapped by those closest to him and left to wonder who is good and who is bad. His rescue is the climactic episode that balances good and evil in the super world. The catalyst – the girl he’s crushing on. A girlfriend and balancing the Supers is good, right? Or is it…bad? Available in print or electronic: Whiskey Creek Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble Jeff admired the growth of the flames as they devoured wads of paper and fast food wrappers in the wire mesh trashcan. He slipped the book of matches into his pocket and sat back on his heels to admire his work. One side of the can merely smoldered so he blew gently to fan the guttering flame. It reminded him of how blowing on Jasmine’s neck the night before had resulted in a lovely arch of her back. He growled a throaty sigh, remembering Jasmine’s blissful distraction as he’d nibbled her earlobe.
Jeff glanced over his shoulder. A man, who looked like he belonged behind a desk in a downtown high rise, jogged toward him.
“ Ah, the sweet sounds of discipline.” Jeff stood, stuffed his fists in the front pockets of his jeans and shook the long bangs out of his eyes. He half expected the guy’s slick-soled business shoes to slip as he jogged across visitor parking. This was Jeff’s favorite part. Almost getting caught. When the guy was a baseball’s toss away, Jeff turned. He walked a couple steps then skipped up into a jog.
“ Kid, stop!”
Jeff chuckled to himself and said, “Yeah, sure,” and loped across the soccer field.
“ Wait a minute.”
Jeff stole a look over his shoulder. The guy was close even though he didn’t seem to be running very fast. Jeff grinned at him and increased his pace. A seven-foot tall chain link fence ringed in the far side of the field to prevent stray soccer balls from breaking the windows of passing cars on the street below. Jeff leaped onto the fence without slowing down and in two cat-like movements, launched himself over the top. He dropped to the ground, landing on a hill pocked with gopher holes, as easily as if he were jumping around in a bounce house. He smoothly transitioned back into a sprint and dashed across the street, startling a lady driving an SUV.
“ Kid, hold up.”
Jeff almost tripped; the guy was half way across the street already. He smirked, finally a decent chase, but not for long. With little effort, Jeff stepped up to a blurring speed. He dashed up a peaceful street that ran perpendicular to the school, where kids rode bikes and ran through sprinklers. Jeff recognized one of the “good” kids from school, washing a ’57 step-side Chevy.
“ Sweet ride,” Jeff called out. The kid looked up at him, but then snapped his head to the left. That guy cannot be that close! Jeff looked over his shoulder to find the guy was only a house length behind him. Holy crap, Batman. No one ever keeps up with me!
For the first time in a long time, Jeff worried. But only a little. With a deep, fortifying breath he pumped his thigh muscles harder. He whizzed past houses so fast he doubted anyone would be able to describe him if they were asked to later. Tears streamed sideways from the force of the wind his speed created. He’d only started to breathe a bit more heavily than normal. Jeff was built to run.
“ Kid, hold on just a second.”
Jeff stumbled, but regained his footing again before becoming road rash. The guy sounded as if he was only a bus length away. How can that be? No one runs as fast as I do. Jeff’s lungs constricted. An alien emotion, panic, budded in his chest. Stay focused. Controlled, deep breaths allowed calming oxygen into his lungs and up to his brain and Jeff’s airways opened fully again.
Real speed required concentration. Jeff concentrated on his thigh muscles. Usually he only bothered to think about the front muscles in order to ignite his unusual speed, but this time he thought about the sinewy, sleek muscles that wrapped gracefully around the larger front muscles. He envisioned how the smaller muscles provided strength and support to the larger working muscle. He pictured that strength extending into his gluteus maximus to sustain a strong stride. The resulting speed was completely inhuman.
I loved the world building! It made me wish I was part of it. Strand does a fantastic job of making the world of King of Bad seem like it's a real thing. -Heather Kind of Bad sucks you in from the first page and doesn't let you go. I couldn't put it down! –Amazon Review When her children were young and the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died. The end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers and short stories for the younger ones, Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Learn more about Kai and her books on her website, www.kaistrand.com.a Rafflecopter giveaway~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Best wishes,Donna M. McDineMulti Award-winning Children's AuthorIgnite curiosity in your child through reading! Connect with Donna McDine on Google+
A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star ReviewPowder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star ReviewHockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Farvorite Five Star ReviewThe Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist
Oh joy... I get to hang in a museum! One of my book spreads was chosen to be in the upcoming exhibit at the 2014 SCBWI WWA Illustrator exhibit at the Washington State Historical Society. Now... all I need is a frame. It's a great museum, only I don't get down to Tacoma very often.
By: Seymour Simon,
Meet the Western Pygmy Possum, the subject of our Cool Photo of the Week. This tiny marsupial lives in the dry countryside in various parts of Australia. Its body is just 3 inches (7.7 cm) long and its tail is as long as its body. Like most marsupials (kangaroos, for example), the females in this species carry their young in a pouch until they are ready to live on their own.This photograph makes me want to say: Can I have one, please?!Photo: Amanda McLean
On October 21, millions of children and adults will come together to read a single book for Jumpstart’s Read for the Record®. The annual campaign celebrates literacy and brings awareness to the fact that children in need start kindergarten 60% behind their more affluent peers.
Participants will also be trying to break the world record for largest shared reading experience. In order to do so, more than 2,462,860 people will need to read this year’s selected book, “Bunny Cakes” by bestselling author and illustrator Rosemary Wells.
We’re helping educators and program leaders serving kids in need celebrate! If at least 70% of the children in your program are from low income families or military families, you can order the custom edition of “Bunny Cakes” in both English and Spanish through the First Book Marketplace.
In the last 8 years, Read for the Record has engaged 11.5 million children and put 1.6 million books into the hands of kids in need. We’re excited to help even more kids participate in this year’s celebration. To receive books in time to celebrate on October 21, be sure to order by October 6. Here’s to breaking a new world record together!
Do you work with kids in need? Sign up to access “Bunny Cakes” along with other great books and resources through the First Book Marketplace?
The post Read “Bunny Cakes” on October 21st! appeared first on First Book Blog.
I had such a great time at the TweensRead festival this weekend! This is the third time I’ve been to this event, and WOW, the crowd has grown! Every session was jam-packed with kids eager to hear from the twenty authors who participated, including local author Varsha Bajaj. Most sessions were standing room only. According to Valerie Koehler’s newsletter for Blue Willow Bookshop (which handled books sales for the event) over 1700 people attended, and 70% were tweens.
We’ve got more good stuff happening this week, both thanks to our good friends at Blue Willow Bookshop:
September 30, Tuesday, 7:00 PM
Blue Willow Bookshop
Ellen Hopkins, YA Author
Ellen Hopkins is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of many books for teens, including CRANK, IMPULSE, and TILT, as well as the adult novels TRIANGLES and COLLATERAL.
In her new novel, RUMBLE, Matthew Turner doesn’t have faith in anything. Not in family–his is a shambles after his younger brother was bullied into suicide; not in so-called friends who turn their backs when things get tough; not in some all-powerful creator who lets too much bad stuff happen; and certainly not in some “It Gets Better” psychobabble.
No matter what his girlfriend, Hayden, says about faith and forgiveness, there’s no way Matt’s letting go of blame. He’s decided to “live large and go out with a huge bang,” and whatever happens happens. But when a horrific event plunges Matt into a dark, silent place, he hears a rumble…a rumble that wakes him up, calling everything he’s ever disbelieved into question.
October 1, Wednesday, 5:00 PM
Blue Willow Bookshop
Tyler Whitesides, MG Author
Tyler Whitesides will discuss and sign STRIKE OF THE SWEEPERS, his newest novel in the JANITORS series for kids. The stakes have never been higher, and you’ve never seen squeegees do this before! It is a wild and slightly unsanitary ride as Spencer, Daisy, and the rebels find themselves chased by Mr. Clean’s new and terrifying breed of toxite: the Sweepers. Time is short. With the fabled Manualis Custodem in hand, Spencer must figure out how to summon the founding witches if they ever hope to mop up and save education.
Spent some time in Ireland with my best travelling companion. We stopped to edit the final re-write of Bagger Island and spent a morning of total detachment overlooking the quiet water. What a magical place!
More later when we visit southern Spain.
1. Debrah Martin – Patchwork Man
2. Nicola McDonagh – Echoes from the Lost Ones
3. Teno-E Etsebeth – Rite of Passage
4. Alex Jones – Walls
5. Mark Johnson – The Last Resort
Naveen is the Customer Support Executive and Social Media Manager at BookBuzzr. When he is not working or playing gta, he is working on finishing his graduation. Connect with him on Twitter
Actress Lena Dunham has shot a series of “Ask Lena” advice videos in promotion of her forthcoming memoir/advice book. Thus far, twelve videos have been uploaded to YouTube on the “Not That Kind of Girl” channel.
The video embedded above features the “ASK LENA #5: Insecure writer” piece. Random House has scheduled a release date for September 30, 2014. (via Entertainment Weekly)
New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.
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By: Mark Myers,
I remember flirting – they did it back when I was in college, I think. It’s like penmanship – I was never any good at it. I was also bad at recognizing the few times it happened to me.
Case in point, I was at a party one time and a girl confided in me that she was having trouble with her boyfriend back home. She said it would be nice if she could find someone to make him jealous and gave me a long and rather odd look. I assumed the look meant she might be gassy or something, so I offered to refill her drink and plodded away.
Upon finding my friend, JC, I told him what had just happened. He gave me an equally odd look and said, “Dude, she wanted to make him jealous with you. Are you stupid?”
I refused to answer his charge, but rushed back to the young lady in question, only to find JC glued to her hip. In fact, he must have told every eligible male in the room because there seemed to be an impenetrable force field of testosterone around her. I have no idea what her intentions were and never saw her again.
Now I’m old and married. I flirt with my wife sometimes. I’m so bad at it that she mostly laughs at me when I do. I am a believer in wearing my wedding ring and I don’t frequent bars – so I don’t see much flirtation anymore. If I was bad at recognizing flirtation back in the day, I’m totally out of practice now.
Which brings me to a recent lunch where a lady half my age at a table nearby seemed to be peeking my way. It got downright embarrassing. I kept my head down – no sense leading her on with my charm and good looks (Ha!). After all, I am not available. I often wonder what a man in his 40’s would even talk about with a girl in her 20’s. Most of the time when a person that young talks to me, I feel like I’m watching Telemundo – I understand every third word and just nod a lot.
I felt the weight of this young lady’s stare all through lunch. My mind was ablaze with ways to tell my wife about it – that was going to be fun. The old man still has it! I couldn’t get in trouble for this. After all, several witnesses could testify that I didn’t initiate or encourage the situation. I was just a pawn in her game of lust.
At some point, she appeared two feet away from me. I had no desire to hurt her feelings. After I spurned her advances, I hoped she wouldn’t be crushed. Now that I saw her up close, she was a very attractive young lady who could easily find love with an available man closer to her age.
“Excuse me,” she said. “I’m sorry I was staring at you.”
“That’s okay,” I answered gently. “People say I look like Opie Taylor, so I get that a lot.”
Her look of confusion betrayed that she had no idea who that was… So young.
“No, that’s not it,” she said. “You just look familiar to me.”
The oldest pick-up line in the book. Here we go.
“I don’t think I know you,” I said.
“Oh, I know that. But you look exactly like my dad if he were bald. Do you mind if we take a selfie so I can send it to him?”
I smiled as best I could as she took the picture with my friends laughing wildly. My boastful story to my wife died with the flash of her phone, as did a piece of my self-esteem. I really gotta stop shaving my head.
Artwork: The Flirtation by Eugen de Blaas
Filed under: It Made Me Laugh
Automattic is a distributed company — we all work from wherever we are. Right now, “where we are” is 197 cities around the world: New Orleans, USA. Montevideo, Uruguay. Tokyo, Japan. Vilnius, Lithuania.
Once a year, we get together somewhere in the world to meet, work alongside, learn from, and laugh with one another in an exhilarating, exhausting week called the Grand Meetup. This year, 277 Automatticians descended on Park City, Utah, for seven days in mid-September.
We introduced ourselves to new colleagues, reconnected with coworkers we haven’t seen since last year, and worked on ways to make WordPress.com even better. And of course, lots of us blogged about the experience, in words and images.
We were blown away by the brilliance and generosity of our colleagues…
I’m grateful to have met so many Automatticians from around the world who brought such kindness, curiosity, patience, fierce intelligence, creativity and humor to the time we had together. I’m grateful to have learned about their hobbies, families, personal journeys, quirks, pet peeves, amazing skills, unmitigated geekiness, and brilliant senses of humor.
- VIP Wrangler Chris Hardie
We marveled at the range of conversations we had, from the sublime to the absurd…
Here are some of the things I talked about this week:
- Scottish independence
- Taylor Swift
- My children
- Other people’s children
- Swing dancing
- Waffles (lack thereof)
- Fake morning talkshows
- Mario Kart
Happiness Engineer Zandy Ring
We soaked in the natural beauty of Utah…
And some of us got up close and personal with the wide Utah sky…
Happiness Engineer Jeremey DuVall realizes he’s just jumped out of an airplane.
We learned from one another, and had fun doing it…
I learned how to analyze data in Python with Carly, and went skydiving with Prasath. After discussing common security vulnerabilities with Anne, Cami and I plotted a podcast about absolutely nothing, and recorded part of our first episode…
If you asked me four years ago if I thought it were possible to enjoy working, I’d be dubious. If you asked me whether one could ever genuinely love and respect all their coworkers, I’d hesitate.
Over the past four years, the people of Automattic have demonstrated to me that it’s possible to do work you love with people you love. It’s not common — not yet — but it’s possible.
- VaultPress Eclectic Happiffier Chris Rudzki
We burned the midnight oil…
We worked, we played, we ate, we drank, we slept very little. We tried to make the world a better place, and if you think that’s me being dramatic you don’t know the people I have the honor of working with.
- Dot Organizer Cami Kaos
We took a lot of photos…
(Images above from Happiness Engineers Stephen McLeod, Pam Kocke, Andrea Badgley, Dennis Hong, and Andrew Spittle; Creative Director Dave Martin; Code Wrangler Allen Snook; Designamagician Dan Hauk, Mobile Maker Aaron Douglas; Growth Explorer Luca Sartoni; Spline Reticulator Dennis Snell; and Chief Semicolon Advocate Michelle Weber, AKA me.)
On the final day, Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg led us in a toast that summed up the reason we’re all here…
I’m really grateful that I get to work with the people I do, and on the problems that we work on together. It’s far from easy, in fact each year brings new challenges and I make mistakes as often as not, but it is worthwhile and incredibly fulfilling. A few hours ago I gave a closing toast and teared up looking around the room. So many folks that give their passion and dedicate themselves to jobs both large and small, visible and unseen, to help make the web a better place.
- WordPress co-founder and Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg
And when the week was over, heading home was bittersweet…
This morning was filled with so many hugs (and maybe a tear or two). I told myself that I was looking forward to returning home. To my own bed (although the sleep I got in the silence of the Park City night was the best I may have ever experienced). To regular exercise and home cooking. To the routine of my everyday life. And I was looking forward to that. And even though I knew I would miss my colleagues (it’s happened every time I return from a trip), the weight of the fog of sadness still surprises me when it descends.
I read their blogs. I like their Facebook posts. I retweet their Tweets. And I miss them.
- Happiness (w)Rangler Lori McLeese
If you think you might want to work with this motley crew and join us in 2015’s mayhem…
… we’re hiring. (And yes, you’ll get to make up your own job title, too.)
Filed under: Automattic
Adding to my alphabet of reading critters, I give you a lemur! They're so cute with their long ringed tails. Do you suppose they like to read THE JUNGLE BOOK? CLICK HERE
for more coloring pages!! And be sure to share your creations in my gallery
so I can put them in my upcoming newsletters! (Cards, kids art, and crafts are welcome!) Sign up to receive alerts when a new coloring page is posted each week and... Please check out my books! Especially...
my debut novel, A BIRD ON WATER STREET
, coming out next week
! Click the cover to learn more! When the birds return to Water Street, will anyone be left to hear them sing? A miner's strike allows green and growing things to return to the Red Hills, but that same strike may force residents to seek new homes and livelihoods elsewhere. Follow the story of Jack Hicks as he struggles to hold onto everything he loves most. AWARDS
**A SIBA OKRA Pick
**A GOLD Mom's Choice Award Winner
**The 2014 National Book Festival Featured Title for Georgia!**
**eLit 2014 Gold Medal Winner in the Environmental/Ecology/Nature Category**
I read your blog every day, and I have also gone through posts in the archive. Still, I could not find the answer to a question that has been bugging me for a while.
Suppose I have a novel (draft version) and my chapters are stand alone.
Suppose I submit the first chapter, which is polished, to journals accepting unsolicited submissions for fiction. Of course, I would mention it is a novel excerpt.
Suppose it gets published. My question is: in the future, when I will be querying agents, having one chapter out there, published, will be seen as pro or con?
It's seen as a pro. This is called a "publishing credit." It's a Good Thing indeed. And you don't need to mention it's part of a novel in your submission to lit journals.
The reason it's a good thing is that someone else has seen your work, and liked it. That tells me that you can string sentences together nicely, or at least have been able to do so in the past. That's reassuring when you're reading queries.
And for all you crazed rodent-wheel running authors out there: NO you do not NEED publishing credits in a query. It's worse to list idiotic ones (I won honorable mention in the XYZ writing contest!) than to list nothing at all.
By: Linda Formichelli,
Blog: The Renegade Writer
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This post is by Deb Mitchell.
I’m definitely more of a “rules are there for a reason” than a “rules were meant to be broken” kind of girl. It just never occurs to me to buck the system, and frankly, that’s served me well all my life.
But when my freelance writing career stalled (despite the fact that I had 5+ years of experience with clips numbering in the triple digits), even playing by the rules top freelance writing experts teach wasn’t getting me anywhere.
“Send pitches to newsstand pubs and LOIs to trade pubs.” Check.
“Email editors – NEVER call them!” Check.
“DO NOT clog an editor’s inbox by attaching your clips.” Check.
“Whatever you do, take time to research each market and NEVER, EVER use a template email.” Check, check.
I was spending loads of time researching markets, ferreting out the appropriate editors’ contact info and meticulously wordsmith-ing every email from scratch. Despite my best rule-following efforts, none of the editors contacted me back. Not. One.
There simply aren’t words to describe how frustrated and discouraged I felt. Giving so much time and effort with nothing to show for it eventually took its toll. On a daily basis I was at best, fighting despair and at worst, sinking in its depths.
In the midst of all this, I started working with a writing mentor (the one-and-only Linda). She calmed me down and gave me a few pieces of advice which I, of course, followed to the letter. I got a few lukewarm responses from editors as a result, and I even sold an article to a new-to-me (but not great paying) market.
Sure, it was progress, which lifted my spirits to a degree. But let’s face it — I was still working long, hard hours for minimal payoff. NOT a sustainable pattern for any small business.
Then Linda gave me a tip that helped me think outside the box – and believe me, it was one I NEVER expected to hear from her or any freelance writing expert.
“Why not try calling some editors?” she said, “And write a great LOI email you can quickly tweak for each market. Ask if they assign to freelancers or if they prefer pitches.”
Um, excuse me, what did you say?? Call editors?? Write one LOI to reuse over and over?? Pitch to trade pubs?? Break rules?!?!
As if that weren’t enough, Linda challenged me to call 25 editors in one day.
The thought of doing things that are widely considered no-no’s freaked me out enough, but seriously, 25?! Believe it or not, the part that scared me the least was the actual cold calling. I have a background in sales and I’m good at talking to people and I like marketing myself. Maybe, just maybe, the reason my by-the-book efforts were flopping was because my approach felt inauthentic. Calling editors seemed much more “me” — I’d just always thought if I did it, they’d view me as unprofessional (and kind of hate my guts for bugging them).
But with Linda, a seasoned pro writer, saying it was OK, I didn’t hesitate.
Armed with a three sentence script Linda wrote for me and a short and sweet LOI template email, I started the challenge.
I didn’t even get to leave voicemails with five editors before my phone rang.
“Deb, I was just delighted to get your message!” Really and truly, an editor was calling me to tell me she was happy I’d called her — not “hacked off” or “appalled” or even just “annoyed.” It seems she’d heard my voicemail right after leaving an editorial meeting where she’d learned an article slated for the next issue had fallen through. I’d also thrown caution to the wind and sent her my LOI email with my resume and a clip attached. She’d seen something in my article that would make a perfect story to fill that empty spot. Could I get something into her within a couple of weeks?
I know, right?!?!
After all my nose-to-the-grindstone work and months of angst over doing things the “right” way, all it took was literally a couple of phone calls and I had a gig that paid more than triple what I’d been getting! Even better, the editor ended our conversation by saying this was “the start of a very beautiful working relationship.” Hello, future high-paying gigs!
I’m no expert when it comes to freelancing, but I do think there’s something to this whole “find what feels right for you” idea. Just because the freelance writing books and classes say “Do this” or “Don’t do that” doesn’t necessarily mean those rules are hard and fast. It took me having someone of Linda’s caliber giving me permission to break the rules for me to do something that in the end felt natural and comfortable for me. And it worked.
As long as your approach allows you to both be yourself and to “sell” yourself as a competent professional, it’s worth trying something out of the ordinary — especially if you’re feeling stuck. You can’t predict how editors will react, but if you’re being genuine and gracious to them, no reasonable editor would hate you just for doing something differently. If they do, consider yourself lucky to have been warned about their inner crazy before you got stuck working with them.
So what will you try that’s not in the books? Be brave and take a risk. Go ahead — run with a stick in your mouth! Jump on the good furniture! Call an editor! Take it from me — it’s good to be bad.
How about you? Have you ever broken a rule of freelance writing and benefited as a result? Or have you found a marketing tactic other freelancers would scoff at, but that works for you? Let us know in the Comments below!
Deb Mitchell is a freelance writer in Charlotte, NC specializing in writing about interior design and women’s interest topics. She also works with business clients to make their websites and client communications the best they can be and with students as a general writing and college application essay coach.